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Sessions Embracing ‘Project Exile’ a Result of Exclusive NRA Influence with Trump on Guns

Sessions Embracing ‘Project Exile’ a Result of Exclusive NRA Influence with Trump on Guns
Is there any doubt about who has Trump’s ear on guns? [2016 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum/YouTube]
“In Richmond, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will expand Project Exile nationwide,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.  “Project Exile is a widely copied program credited with cutting Richmond’s violent crime 20 years ago by shipping firearm violators to far-off federal prisons. When [FBI Director] Comey was appointed director of the FBI, Exile was frequently cited as one of his accomplishments.”

Except it wasn’t really as big of an accomplishment as he (and the National Rifle Association) cracked it up to be, but it does go hand-in-fisted-glove with NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre’s longstanding position:

“Let’s agree on this: Every American city, let’s put Project Exile, every time a violent felon, drug dealer, gang member touches a gun, let’s prosecute.”

At the time then-NRA president Charlton Heston was telling “criminals” to “Make my day”  as he joined with anti-gun then-Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell to implement the program there, even though the numbers hardly substantiated the grandiose promises:

“In the final hours of 2004, Richmond topped its 2003 murder rate by one, securing its distinction as one of the nation’s most dangerous cities.

“The city’s final homicide of the year — called in to police around 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve was number 95, surpassing the previous year’s 94. In 2002, there were 83 and in 2001, 69.

“Murders in the United States dropped by nearly 6 percent in the first half of 2004 after rising for four straight years, the FBI reported. Numbers from the second half of 2004 have not been compiled.

“Richmond had the country’s fourth highest murder rate in 2003 and was ranked the nation’s ninth most dangerous city overall in 2004 _ beating out Miami and Compton, Calif. Richmond is the sixth most dangerous when compared to other cities with populations of 100,000 to 499,999.”

And while there was “a steep decline” reported in 2011, a 2016 report noted “Richmond ranks high among ‘murder capitals’ in the U.S.” and doubts about Exile were raised by the surge.

Care to see how they’re doing today?

Besides which, since when is “effectiveness” a measure of Constitutionality? Where is the authority to do this? That’s a question a group of us have been asking for years, and for which we have never received acknowledgement from Exile proponents, let alone a responsive answer. Perhaps it’s time to resurrect and heed the objections and warnings of the Project Exile Condemnation Coalition.

Even without resorting to the demonstrable truism that anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun can’t be trusted without a custodian, there is a variety of ways people who pose no danger to themselves or others are denied the right to keep and bear arms – and often without even the simulated motions of “due process.” That includes gun owners in hopelessly “blue states,” in which all doors for peaceable redress of grievances have been slammed shut by overwhelmingly “anti-gun” legislatures and judges. That means, in addition to violent gangbangers, cartel “soldiers,” Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby (don’t laugh – or do), a principled “I will not comply” activist who refuses to surrender his rights can be caught up in Exile’s net.

And that suits “rice bowl” gun groups just fine anyway. There’s not a lot of money in citizens concluding the system the lobbyists try to game is hopeless, and resorting to the time-honored American tradition of civil disobedience.

So expect AG Sessions to go forward with a renewed “gun control” enforcement emphasis, and attribute that to NRA having near exclusive access to President Trump’s ear on the gun issue. That’s due not only to its early and continued political support of his candidacy, but also because the other national gun group with a dog in the Exile fight, Gun Owners of America, sat on its hands, declining to endorse Trump after its preferred candidate, Ted Cruz, had been sidelined. Agree with that stance on principle or not, the political reality – and that’s the field lobbyists play on – is that NRA has a seat at the table.

What far too many gun owners have not figured out, because I see them repeating the mantra all the time, is that those who counsel to “Enforce existing gun laws” might as well be saying “Enforce existing Intolerable Acts.” If Trump and Sessions really wants to honor their oaths, they’ll focus on challenging existing gun laws, something another president and attorney general refused to even support, despite all the pandering noises about them being “pro gun.”


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David Codrea blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance (, and is a field editor/columnist for GUNS Magazine. Named “Journalist of the Year” in 2011 by the Second Amendment Foundation for his groundbreaking work on the “Fast and Furious” ATF “gunwalking” scandal, he is a frequent event speaker and guest on national radio and television programs.



  1. It might help to fix education, put people to work = Less crime. End all gun restrictions in the blue cities/states that enable criminals and disable law abiding folks.

  2. It is hardly logical to attribute the increase in homicides to the failure of project exile. The intervening years were influenced by lawlessness from the White House on down, especially by attitudes in Obama’s law and justice circles. It will take a generation, at minimum, to offset the terrible influences of the Obama regime, and it is still operating full tilt behind the scenes! One positive effect of the Obama years: The true nature of the New Democrat Party has been illuminated and exposed for what it really is, a treasonous thuggish organization that hates America and will try anything to accomplish the ruination of our nation.

    1. Good post. I am not really clear what Codrea was trying to say. Since when is an NRA alignment with a Republican Government a negative? Not getting Codrea’s point…

      1. CJM: “Good post. I am not really clear what Codrea was trying to say. Since when is an NRA alignment with a Republican Government a negative? Not getting Codrea’s point…”

        Try reading the article and then replying without evasive strawman arguments.

        1. He didn’t say it’s a negative per se. It’s a negative when NRA pushes unconstitutional preemptive surrender betrayals like:
        * No-Fly No-Buy
        * “Gun Free” zones (e.g., Orlando, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook)
        * McCarthy’s Veterans Disarmament law
        * Anti-gun Obamacare (helped Reid “fix” it and then claimed it wasn’t anti-gun, which allowed it to pass by one vote)
        Project Exile
        * Lautenberg DVRO
        * Other “prohibited person” (effective criminal) status without fair trial by jury as envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

        2. (1) is vastly worse when GOA’s lame appeasement of the NeverTrump crowd has now rendered it incapable of derailing NRA betrayals, as it was sometimes able to help do in the past, such as after Sandy Hook. GOA was the most powerful check against NRA sellouts. But GOA wasted what should’ve been a terrific opportunity to nip sellouts in the bud before the train leaves the station.

        And GOA is still giving phony A grades to “Republicans” who are destroying 2A and the USA to import “cheap labor” (future Democrats), even though GOA KNOWS over-immigration is the greatest threat to 2A.

        Of course the NRA is just as bad with the likes of Grover al Nor’Qu’ist on its board of directors.

      2. Yea, I agree with CJM. I’m not clear on Codrea’s point either. How is Project Exile unconstitutional? How is sending convicted felons to a far off prison unconstitutional? So there is some political posturing by the NRA. How is that such a bad thing? Maybe it is but I’m not seeing here.

        Violent crime has statistically dropped by 50% over the last 20 years. The truth is notably better than that. If that were the only reason that we fight for our gun rights, we already won.

    2. Weak strawman argument. Codrea didn’t attribute the increase in homicides to the failure of project exile. What he showed was that it wasn’t all that effective. So is that worth cheerleading for unconstitutional laws that will be used against decent Americans who engage in civil disobedience against unconstitutional gun controls and bans?

      Similarly, consider the crime reduction ineffectiveness of NRA’s concealed carry laws, ineffective relative to what they should’ve achieved, because the NRA insisted on inserting poison pill “gun free” zones into those laws and sabotaging efforts by local/state/grassroots groups to remove those poison pills.

      Result: Fewer people carry in “gun free” zones.

      Result: Carnage in Orlando, Virginia Tech, etc.

      Result: Fewer people apply for carry permits in the first place because of the complication and risk of being “caught” carrying in “gun free” zones.

      Result: Carnage, and only very modest reductions in crime rates of carry states vs non-carry states.

      E.g., 20 years ago, long after becoming the first “model shall issue” state, Florida still had the highest violent crime rate in the USA. Don’t know what they are now, but considering Orlando I suspect they’re still vastly higher than they should be with shall issue “carry”.

      NRA poisons shall issue “carry” bills with stupid restrictions ON CARRY even in states where it has/had ample clout to pass better bills. Had NRA passed a clean bill in Florida or allowed locals to unpoison it, many lives would’ve been saved over the decades. Orlando wouldn’t have happened or the body count would’ve been far lower.

  3. I don’t get the point of this article. Just because a bill did not get properly applied in past administrations does not mean it can’t work under our current President. Do you have a better plan to impact criminal behavior as part of a multi layered effort? I would be interested to read about that.

    1. “Just because a bill did not get properly applied in past administrations”. The problem with the Project Exile gun control approach isn’t just improper application. Solutions are implied in the article, but a treatise on alternative pro-gun loyal American approaches need not be included to discuss inherent anti-gun aspects of a program.

      1. “anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun can’t be trusted without a custodian”. Why are so many violent mens rea criminals loose in society? Project Exile is an anti-gun smokescreen. Guns are not the problem, they’re a solution. Loose mens rea violent criminals are a problem. Self-evident solution.

      2. The biggest single-criminal massacre in US history was done with a gallon of gasoline and a match. Apparently for the NRA, being shot is somehow worse than being beaten to death, burned alive, run over by a truck, chopped up with a knife? Why single out guns, gun possession and “gun crime” for special treatment, especially in a way that can and will hurt decent American resistors – i.e. who engage in civil disobedience to unconstitutional laws?

      You are posting on OATHKEEPERS, after all. I have to point this out here?

      3. Arm decent citizens everywhere, not just in the home and certain zones. Abolish “gun free” zones. Stop disarming Veterans and other loyal Americans without trial by jury. Etc. Self-evident solution.

  4. I still am not so sure if Trump is the real deal, or not. If he is the real deal (God bless him) but with all of the adversaries flying at him both Rep, and Dem. not to mention the MSM and the Lefty/communists that until this election I could not believe were so many.I don’t think anything grandiose is going to happen with the 2nd amendment in favor of good honest folks. The Republicans and the Democrats as we see are the same animal. I think they would both love to put the second as well as any other amendment that does not agree with what they say or mean at the moment to rest. They are all members of one big club and as the late George Carlin used to say,”You are not a member.” I wish I were wrong, but I Have been hearing it for a long time now with little to no positive results.

    1. It’s not realistic to expect any politician to take a stronger gun rights position than the NRA. You can hope for it, but it’s not rational to expect it. Which is why it’s a tragedy that
      * NRA is run by corrupt authority worshipers, appeasers and even open-dhimmigration Bloomberg collaborators & Islamophiles like Grover al Nor’qu’ist
      * NRA members are such lemmings
      * GOA sabotaged its chance for a seat at the table.

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